by Paula Bosse
Most of us have fond memories of holiday-themed activities in school — here are a few photos from the Christmas season at Booker T. Washington High School in the early ’50s.
Above, girls hang decorations on the office door.
Below, the Library Club poses for a photo at a Christmas party (all photos are larger when clicked).
And the bottom two photos show members of the Booker T. Washington chapter of the American Junior Red Cross standing with the articles they’ve made and/or collected for distribution to various hospitals and institutions — a couple of girls can be seen crocheting and knitting items which will be added to the collection of things destined for grateful recipients.
And below, Mrs. Catherine Robinson, the organization’s sponsor, stands with students and their gift-wrapped presents which are ready to be delivered to places such as the Hutchins Home for Convalescent Patients, Woodlawn and Parkland Hospitals, orphanages, boarding homes for juvenile wards of the state, and even to the leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana (a hospital which treated leprosy patients — a 1953 newspaper article reported that most of the then-current 400 patients were from Texas).
Organized in 1917, the American Junior Red Cross had Dallas chapters in most — if not all — schools by 1918, including Booker T. Washington. By 1949 Dallas County had Jr. Red Cross chapters in 183 schools, with more than 78,000 students taking part; they made and/or collected 30,000 items that year which were distributed to active servicemen, to hospitalized veterans and children, to the needy, and to the aged. There were regular collection drives for reading material (elementary kids donated a LOT of comic books!), and there were regular visits to hospitals, etc., to entertain and perform (“except in times of polio epidemics”). Students also wrote letters to military personnel and to children in other countries and were trained in safety and first-aid procedures..
Because of the efforts of Junior Red Cross members like these from Booker T. Washington High School, many who were convalescing, lonely, or in need were assured a happier Christmas than they might otherwise have had.
Sources & Notes
All photos of Booker T. Washington High School students are from the John Leslie Patton Papers collection of the Dallas Historical Society. (More on Patton, the legendary principal of Booker T. Washington for 30 years can be found at the Handbook of Texas site here.)
More on the American Junior Red Cross can be found in these articles:
- “Bet You Never Heard of the American Junior Red Cross” by Janet Golden (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- “Contributions of Young Americans; Red Cross Supporters Prove You’re Never Too Young To Make a Difference.” (American Red Cross website)
- “News of Women” by Katherine Dillard, The Dallas Morning News, March 5, 1950; a full-page look at the activities of members of Dallas’ Junior Red Cross groups (Dallas Morning News archives)
Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.